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Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2015 Oct;64(10):1305-14. doi: 10.1007/s00262-015-1698-0. Epub 2015 May 6.

Novel metronomic chemotherapy and cancer vaccine combinatorial strategy for hepatocellular carcinoma in a mouse model.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Viral Oncology, Istituto Nazionale per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori, "Fondazione Pascale" - IRCCS, Naples, Italy.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most frequent primary liver cancer and represents the third and the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide in men and women, respectively. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) chronic infections account for pathogenesis of more than 80 % of primary HCC. HCC prognosis greatly varies according to stage at beginning of treatment, but the overall 5-year survival rate is approximately 5-6 %. Given the limited number of effective therapeutic strategies available, immunotherapies and therapeutic cancer vaccines may help in improving the clinical outcome for HCC patients. However, the few clinical trials conducted to date have shown contrasting results, indicating the need for improvements. In the present study, a novel combinatorial strategy, based on metronomic chemotherapy plus vaccine, is evaluated in a mouse model. The chemotherapy is a multi-drug cocktail including taxanes and alkylating agents, which is administered in a metronomic-like fashion. The vaccine is a multi-peptide cocktail including HCV as well as universal tumor antigen TERT epitopes. The combinatorial strategy designed and evaluated in the present study induces an enhanced specific T cell response, when compared to vaccine alone, which correlates to a reduced Treg frequency. Such results are highly promising and may pave way to relevant improvements in immunotherapeutic strategies for HCC and beyond.

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